Monday, July 24, 2017


Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society
Program Notes         
7:00 pm July 5, 2017

Our Program Chair, Claudia Taylor, introduced our July program presenter, Ken Buck.
Ken Buck
Ken is a very accomplished local artist, with memberships and signatures in multiple regional and national societies for both watercolor and pastels.  He has been published in many periodicals, books and magazines.  He has produced wonderful scenes of people swimming in pools and vivid floral scenes.  He teaches classes six days a week at the Art Academy and at The Baker-Hunt Art & Cultural Center.  Ken maintains his studio at the Pendleton Art Center.  They have an open house in October/November/December.  Ken noted that they are always looking for artists to show in the hallways during the Pendleton shows.

Ken described his preferred materials and tools:
·         His favorite papers are Jack Richeson, Arches and Lanaquarelle.  He chooses rough, cold press paper for bite to take pastels better.
·         He used a 1/2” Coffman flat brush during the demo.  He likes the brush because he has a good sense of how much paint it holds.  He also prefers synthetic brushes, choosing to avoid animal hairs.
·         Ken has thousands of pastels of all brands to assure a wide variety of colors and tints.
·         Ken emphasized using professional quality watercolors for longevity of color steadfastness.

For the program presentation, Ken explained that he would lay down a loose watercolor underpainting and overlay with pastel drawing and detailing.  Ken’s chosen scene was a woodland scene, with multiple vertical tree trunks breaking a colorful late summer/fall mix of colors.  As Ken worked through the watercolor underpainting, he outlined many of his general views of art, life and his passion as a cat whisperer.  After he completed the watercolor underpainting, he used a hair dryer to speed up the process before moving into the pastel work.
·         When he glazes in watercolor, Ken generally works in one direction.  When using watercolor as an underpainting, the direction is not important.
·         Ken doesn’t like to use black or gray tints in his work.  He prefers to mix grays with complementary colors that form the palette of a particular piece he is working on.  He believes that black kills the life in a painting.
·         Ken likes to push the application of color as far as he can during his work. 
·         Abstract painting is not an interest of Ken’s.  He believes that every painting has pieces and parts of the painting that are abstract in their individual nature, contributing to the overall composition.
·         Ken often searches and defines the darkest value in a painting as soon as possible.  It helps to define the range of values within the painting, by which to measure other color values.
·         Ken pointed out that oil-based pastels, such as Caran d’Ache, cannot be used with other pastels.
·         Pastels are not chalk. 
·         When working with pastels, one’s hands must be kept clean and dry.
·         Ken works hard to keep a balance of values in the overall composition of a painting.
·         He works vertically with watercolors and pastels.  When working with Yupo paper, one must work.
·         Ken enjoys setting a mix of watercolors in the underpainting that form rich grays and then layering accents of bright pastels over these gray areas.

Ken displayed and explained various techniques in his demo and as part of his approach in his work.
·         Ken worked very quickly as he put in his underpainting of watercolor.  He explained that it was merely to set the tone of colors for the composition.  Each color area would have varying degrees of pastel overlay.  Sometimes he left most of the watercolor come through and other times, he deepened the color area with heavy blends of pastels.
·         He explained that it is critical to let the watercolor dry before beginning the pastel work to keep the pastel looking fresh.
·         As Ken worked with the pastels, he would lightly blend the colors with his fingertips as needed to achieve softer or harder tones or edges.
·         Ken explained that he checks the values of the piece throughout the development of his work.  One thing he does is to squint, which blurs the detail into areas of color, allowing him to evaluate the values as he goes. 
·         Another trick is to view the painting in a mirror to look for shapes that don’t work. 
·         Ken will utilize a venetian blind to modulate the intensity of light hitting a painting as he reviews it. 
·         Ken also explained that it is possible to lift watercolor with dry brush before it is dry.  Pastels can also be lifted with stiff brush or kneaded eraser.
·         Upon finishing a pastel piece for shipping to a show, Ken uses Sennelier Latour Pastel spray fix.  He warns that application of a spray fix should be a single layer spray.  If too much spray is used, it can soak an area of pastel and darken the color in an undesirable way.

Ken recommended checking out artist Raymond Kelley for his pastel over watercolors.

Ken concluded his program with a review and critique of Club member paintings. 

For our next Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society meeting on August 2nd, we will be meeting at the Barn prior to setting and hanging the GCWS Show.  See you then.

Submitted by Tom Schroeder, Secretary, Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society, July 2017.

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